Changing my Religion


“I don’t consider myself a religious person,” I explained to the doctor, “but if I’m religious about anything, it’s taking Gleevec.” It’s been a ritual for me to take my miracle medication every morning for 15 years (minus 27 months of pregnancies), alongside my protein-powered breakfast. I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve missed my medication—ever. After all, if you’re given a miracle med, you might as well be devout about taking it. Not to confuse my religious experiences with my spiritual journey. I am a deeply spiritual person, longing daily to connect to the Divine and live life in the light of grace and truth. But that’s for another blog.

I was a part of making medical history—Gleevec changed the way cancer could be treated—the original “smart bomb” that targets my disease specifically and accurately, without launching a blanket chemo attack on all cells—the fight metaphor is everywhere! One doctor in a recent CBS 60 Minutes interview called Gleevec the most effective cancer drug ever made. Although, he was challenged by another doctor who commented on the financial toxicity of Gleevec, explaining that drugs are only as affective as they are affordable. Over the last few years, Gleevec has tripled in price! Marketing the miracle.

I never anticipated having such a religious attachment to a cancer treatment until it ended last week. It’s been a significant part of my life, my health, my history, my routine…and now it’s time to change things up. Gleevec was my first-line treatment. Now, it’s been superseded by Sprycel—a new drug that promises to be even more effective than its predecessor. Sprycel also comes with a level of financial toxicity—more calls to insurance, specialty pharmacies and copay assistance programs. And since I’m only a few days into taking it, I’m hoping it proves to be even more effective with minimal toxicity to my body. That’s what February and March will entail—pokes and prods to ensure the new drug is doing its job targeting leukemia molecules and not my other healthy molecules.

So, this morning I sat down with my same high-protein breakfast, my water bottle, my favorite cup of Earl Grey, and my new white Sprycel pill. I took it just the same way I’ve taken Gleevec for so long, even though the instructions didn’t specify I had to take it that way. Where does this kind of transition fit in to life? How do I end something I’ve associated with health, well-being, and life-saving miracles for 15 years? I guess I jump to another and consider it a change in my daily religious habits. Things always feel more settled when I can put a good metaphor to them. Good-bye little gold pill.






15 thoughts on “Changing my Religion

  1. Debbie says:

    Love you & praying God uses this pill to give you a long and happy life! 😘😘😘

  2. Luna Lakatos says:

    You are a moving miracle…..May God continue the work He started, and may that new pill be even better than the old pill…God is good.

    • Thank you, Lona, I’ve been encouraged by that very promise lately from the words of Paul: There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

  3. […] just waiting to be harnessed and developed in me. That’s one way to cope with the limitations of my new cancer treatment…focus on my […]

  4. […] Being on Sprycel for nearly three months has tested some of my physical, mental and emotional limits. It’s not that I’m laid up in bed or losing my hair or my lunch, it’s just that a little bit of life has been sucked out of every day—in my dramatically low moments I think of Wesley in the Pit of Despair, if you’ve ever seen The Princess Bride. […]

  5. […] don’t touch that one!  That’s Sprycel. That’s what Mommy takes for her […]

  6. […] Financial toxicity of my treatments over the years […]

  7. […] in around me. Darkness was encircling me and I was convinced that I was about to pass out. On Sprycel, I deal with dizziness often, but I don’t think I have ever in my life fainted.  I started to […]

  8. […] I turn the volume way down on my exercise chica’s voice. I have a series of exercise videos I do religiously, so I am pretty familiar with Tanya’s voice. Though I can’t mimic her moves from memory, I can […]

  9. […] Woe is me because it’s expensive to be in grad school, to have three growing kids, and to pay chronic medical bills. Woe is me because September expenses always seem high. Woe is me because I can’t treat myself to […]

  10. […] treatment. I have battled chronic leukemia (CML) for fifteen years, but my current treatment, Sprycel, is more toxic to my system and regularly challenges me with increased fatigue and dizziness. Being […]

  11. […] marrow biopsies, randomized to a ground-breaking clinical trial, in and out of remission, 3 kids, 4 kinds of treatment, and a long-term relationship with my current Hem-Onc […]

  12. […] years into chronic illness and the financial toxicity that accompanies long-term effective […]

  13. […] since I started Sprycel 3 years ago—my targeted therapy for chronic leukemia, I’ve been a little off. I get dizzy and […]

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